Meet the Alba family … Jamie, Terin, Jesse and Francine – Celebrating A Lifetime of Defying Expectations
They opened the first Sisley thirty years ago, on Pico Blvd. Armed with family recipes and a dedicated staff they endured everything from the L.A. riots, to their first deposit being walked into a bank as it was being robbed (Jamie didn’t hesitate, he turned and ran outside, unwilling to give up the first return on his huge gamble).
It was an exciting, trying, educational time, but they did enough things right and a few years later achieved a level of success that afforded the opportunity to search for a second location. Many of their friends and co-workers were shocked when they settled on a city few had heard of. Those who knew about Valencia, primarily associated it with Six Flags, Magic Mountain. But owners Jamie and Francine Alba believed it was a city on the rise, with the right foundation, and a bright future ahead. Still, it seemed like a long shot. But they did it anyway.
Jaime Alba reminds people of one of the Goodfellas from the movies because, well, he was. (You can check out the movie Mean Streets – and others – to see him!) Fran may remind you of a former starlet, because she was until Jaime whisked her away from their careers, into a loving thirty seven-year marriage that produced two adult children and five restaurants.
You probably know Sisley. The restaurant that’s been at the top of Town Center Drive – and is now celebrating their 25th year in Valencia. This article isn’t about Sisley though, it’s a glimpse at the lives of Jamie and Fran.
Jaime knew when he met Fran that she was the one. Her dancer’s legs may have gotten his attention at first (as they still do) but it was her energy and compassion that made him want to spend his life with her.
Jaime had restaurant experience, so they decided to leave the film industry and dive into creating their first love child: Sisley. Soon there were five Sisley restaurants in Southern California, and two children, Jesse and Terin.
Then the Big C entered their nuclear family. Things changed. After the cancer was treated, and they were in the clear, they decided life was too short. It was time to travel and whittle their restaurant empire down to one, and luckily they chose to keep the Santa Clarita location.
Fast forward to present day. You can still find Jaime in the restaurant on most days. Fran can be spied watching over things – look in one of the two private dining rooms or the new West Patio. Another clue is if the music suddenly gets turned up. If it’s a Keith Urban song – one of Fran’s favorites – she is the likely culprit for your loud-er entertainment. You can also find the Albas on the original patio if service dogs are out there with guests. The Albas are huge dog lovers.
For the future? Jaime has admitted he’d like to buy a motor home and travel. You might have a hard time picturing Jaime, always on the move in the restaurant, sitting still for too long. But, when he does retire he’ll deserve some sit-down time
When they first opened their doors here, they defied all expectations. They discovered a vibrant city hungry for more. They made new friends, hosted endless birthdays, anniversaries, even wedding proposals. They became apart of the community and never looked back.
The Albas would love everyone in Santa Clarita to come in and say hello. In fact, if you do come in during the month of February tell them you read in Elite magazine that all guests for the month of February – the most romantic month of the year – should ask for a free glass of Champagne on the Albas. It’s their way to toast your romance, their’s, and the 25 years spent serving you.
PHOTO by JONATHAN MARIANDE
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